Andari Lab: Autism & Social Affective Neuroscience (ASAN)

About Elissar Andari, Ph.D.

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Dr. AndariAssistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of Toledo College of Medicine
ASAN laboratory (Autism & Social Affective Neuroscience)

Phone: 419.383.5227

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University

Clinical Experience and Scientific Training

  • 2001: Internship, rehabilitation and therapeutic interventions, The Lebanese School for the Blind and the Deaf, Baabda, Lebanon
  • 2001: Internship, re-education of motor dysgraphia for children, International College, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon
  • 2002: Internship, re-education of behavioral deficits in epileptic patients with cerebral lesions and hyperactivity, Clinic of Diana Sakr, Lebanon.
  • 2004: Internship, prognostic and diagnostic work with children with low functioning Autism, mental retardation and Down Syndrome, Sesobel Autism Center, Zouk-Mikael, Lebanon.
  • 2005: Internship, cognitive and behavioral therapy with autistic children and adults, Gachetière-Voreppe Center of Autism, France.
  • 2009: Training, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI), Pr. Bernadette Roger (mentor), Toulouse, France.
  • 2007:Summer School, FSL and FreeSurfer Course: 3-7 September 2007, Cardiff, Wales (training on fMRI analysis). 
  • 2013: Certification, Introduction to Clinical Trials, Institutional Review Board course, Emory University, USA
  • 2016: NIH K Award Grant Writing Tutorial (March, 7, 2016), Emory University, USA
  • 2016: Writing an Effective Teaching Statement (November 15, 2016), Emory University, USA
  • 2016: Giving a great chalk talk (November 29, 2016), Emory University, USA
  • 2016: Academic CV (July 21, 2016), Emory University, USA
  • 2016: Ethics Course (October-November 2016), Emory University, USA

Awards And Grant Support

  • 2007-2010: PhD Fellowship award, French Ministry of Higher Education and Research “Bourse du Ministere de l’Education Nationale, de l’Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche”.
  • 2007-2009: Foundation de France research grant, Programme Recherche Medicale, “The role of oxytocin in patients with Autism.” Principle Investigator: Angela Sirigu. Total Direct Costs per year: 80,000 Euros.
  • 2010-2011: PhD Fellowship from the French National Research Agency, doctoral fellowship, EA 100% effort.
  • 2011-2012: Center for Translation for Social Neuroscience postdoctoral fellowship, EA 100% effort.
  • 2012-2018: National Institutes of Health, Silvio O. Conte Center Grant, “Oxytocin and social cognition.” Principle Investigator, Project 4: Larry Young. Total Direct Costs: $10,000,000. Total Direct Costs, Project 4: $1,250,000. EA effort: 100%.
  • 2012-2014: Center for Translational Social Neuroscience Pilot research grant, “Oxytocin as adjunctive treatment of Schizophrenia”. Principle Investigator: Erica Duncan, MD. Co-PI: E.A. 
  • 2017-2018: Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Pilot Research Grant (PI: E. Andari). Emory College of Arts and Sciences.
  • 2018-2019: Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition Pilot Project Grant “Precision medicine approach for intranasal oxytocin effects on brain function in Autism Spectrum Disorder”. PI: EA. Total funds: $25,000. 
  • 2018: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel award.  
  • 2020: Medical Research Society University of Toledo, a pilot grant: Adjunctive Therapeutic Potential of Oxytocin for COVID-19 (OxyCovid project). PI: EA. Total funds: $25,000.
  • 2020: ProMedica Foundation: Autism and Social Neuroscience. PI: EA. $225,000
  • 2020: Mentor of MD student award: Distinction in Research. University of Toledo Medical Center. PI: Stephanie Cordonnier. 
  • 2020: American Physiological Society select: best recent paper: Oxytocin’s anti-inflammatory and proimmune functions in COVID-19: a transcriptomic signature-based approach

Recent Invited Talks and Symposiums

  • March 2018: Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture Neuroscience presentations, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. Title of the talk: “The role of Epigenetics and Biological Markers in Prosociality”. Emory University.
  • May 2018: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Title of the talk: “The oxytocin system, biomarker for social functioning and target for therapeutic avenues for Autism Spectrum Disorders”. 
  • May 2018: Understanding the neuroregulatory actions of oxytocin and its potential clinical applications, workshop Erice at Ettore Majorana foundation and center for scientific culture in Sicily, Italy. Oral presentation. Title of the talk: “Target engagement for intranasal oxytocin on brain function in Autism Spectrum Disorders”. 
  • August 2018: Hotel Dieu de France - Institut de psychomotrocity, Medical faculty at Universite Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth – Beirut- Lebanon. Invited talk. Title of the talk: “Neurobiological correlates of social disorders in Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
  • February 2019: Grand Rounds, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toledo, Ohio. Title of the talk: “The neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
  • August 2019: Workshop on oxytocin and social disorders: from evolutionary perspectives to clinical applications, University of Zurich, The International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health supports research, education, and communication in evolutionary medicine, Switzerland. Title of the talk: “ Epigenetics and oxytocin treatment in autism spectrum disorders.”
  • February 2020: Grand rounds Neurology. University of Toledo. Title of the talk: “Epigenetic Biomarkers of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene for Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
  • February 2020: Talk at the Department of Biology. University of Toledo. Title of the talk: “Epigenetic Biomarkers of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene for Autism Spectrum Disorders.” 
  • July 2020: Symposium invitation: Fens (Federation of European Neuroscience Societies). Title of the talk: Target engagement for intranasal oxytocin: brain and behavioral evidence in autism spectrum disorder. S23- Title of the Symposium: Oxytocin and social behavior from animal models to clinical applications: progress and challenges. Chairs: Alexander Charlet, Strasbourg, France and Hala Harony-Nicolas, New York, United States of America. Title of the talk: “Target Engagement for Intranasal Oxytocin: Brain and Behavioral Evidence in Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
  • Sept 2020: Town Hall Meeting invitation by the office of the Dean. University of Toledo, College of medicine and Life Sciences. Title of the talk: “Neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Biomarkers and Therapeutics”. 
  • Dec 2020: Grand Rounds Department of Psychiatry, University of Toledo. Title of the talk: “Drug Repurposing  and Child Maltreatment during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”


Undergraduate Courses

  • 2009-2010Instructor, Biology Course, “Introduction to Biology”. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France

Undergraduate Lectures

  • Mar 2016Invited lecturer, NEUR4420, “Hormones and Behavior.” Lecture topic: “Oxytocin and autism”. Georgia State University.

Graduate lectures

  • May 2010Invited lecturer, Master of Biosciences Course, “Neural basis of Cognition.” Lecture title: “The role of oxytocin in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France. 

Emory Continuing Education lectures

  • Mar 2016: Invited lecturer, Emory Continuing Education (ECE) course, “Science at Emory.” Lecture title: “Oxytocin and social behavior, from rodent research to human clinical trials.” Osher Lifelong Learning Center (OLLI), Emory University.
  • Sept 2016: Lecturer, ECE course, “Social Neuroscience, brain and behavior 1.” Lecture title: “Oxytocin and social behavior.” OLLI, Emory University.
  • Jan 2017: Lecturer, ECE course, “Social Neuroscience, brain and behavior 2.” Lecture title: “Neurobiology of social functioning.” OLLI, Emory University.

Emory Continuing Education courses

  • Sep-Nov 2016: Instructor, ECE course, “Social Neuroscience, brain and behavior 1”. 8 sessions. OLLI, Emory University.
  • Jan-Mar 2017: Instructor, ECE course, “Social Neuroscience, brain and behavior 2”. 8 sessions. OLLI, Emory University. 

Training seminars

  • August 2018: Invited instructor, training seminar, “Neurobiological correlates of Autism, scientific methodology and experimental procedures”. Institut de Psychomotricite, University Saint Joseph, Lebanon.

Guest lectures at the University of Toledo

  • July 2020: Invited talk, Pediatric Dental Residents. Title of the lecture: “ Autism Spectrum Disorders and Cognitive Disorders”.
  • Sept 2020: Invited lecture to graduate program at the Department of Psychology. Class of Dr. Mathew Tull, Neuroscience of Emotions for graduate students. Title of the talk: “Neuroscience of emotions”. 


Professional Service

  • 2015: Topic Guest Editor, Frontiers in Neurobiology Special Issue on Oxytocin’s routes in social behavior: into the 21st century. 
  • 2015: Assistant Organizer, Atlanta Autism Consortium Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • February 2015: Thesis examiner. Chathuri Jeewanthi Yatawara. Syndney Medical School. 
  • 2016-Present: Review Editor at Frontiers for Psychiatry.
  • June 2016: Grant reviewer, external assessor. Oxytocin enhancement of social learning in the treatment of toddlers with autism. Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council. 
  • Dec 2017: Jury on thesis of Mina Jazayeri by Dr. Jean-Rene Duhamel, Lyon, France.
  • June 2019: Member, International Advisory Committee for the 13th World Congress on Neurohypophysial Hormones (WCNH2019). 
  • January 2020: Thesis Committee member of Hunter Eby, Bioinformatics, Masters, University of Toledo.
  • January 2020: Thesis Committee member of Kristina Todorovic, Ph.D. student. Department of Psychology, University of Toledo.
  • January 2020: Creation of ACARD: Autism Center and Research Development- series of seminars on clinical services for Autism and research on Autism at the Department of Psychiatry – University of Toledo.
  • January 2020: Committee member of the Annual Symposium on Research in Psychiatry, Psychology, and Behavioral Science. University of Toledo.
  • January 2021: Thesis Committee member of Mahmoud Eladawi, Bio-Engineering Department. Ph.D. student.
  • Spring 2021: Thesis Committee member of Jaiswal Ankit, Laboratory of Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, Biology Department, Ph.D. student. University of Toledo, USA. 
  • April 2021: Thesis External examiner for the Ph.D. defense of Tanya L. Procyshyn. PI: Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University, UK. 

Community Service

  • Fall 2013: Presenter at Town hall meeting for families with autism Spectrum Disorders. Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
  • 2013-2016: Presenter at Town hall meetings at the Emory Autism Center.
  • March 2016: Assistant Organizer and presenter at the Open house Emory Autism Center.
  • May 2016: Assistant Organizer of Temple Grandin Event.

Mentorship and Leadership activities

Mentorship and leadership philosophy: I believe that passion, creativity, knowledge, ethics and determination are keys for success in academia. I encourage students to work on projects they are passionate about; to be creative; and to think of theoretical concepts that underlie research problems. I believe that independence is crucial for creativity and self-confidence and that training is also essential for students to be successful. I have trained students on behavioral neuroscience, clinical approaches to work with patients with autism, experimental approaches, methodology, statistics, data collection, regulatory documentation of clinical trials, scientific reading and writing, fMRI analysis and eye tracking analysis, and other techniques. I organize regular meetings to discuss progress, concerns and goals. I believe that being a mentor is a very important job that can shape the destiny of others, and that it is of our responsibility as researchers to help students learn and love research. It is also important to provide opportunities and networking with other experts in the field, to give career advices and to help them get into graduate programs and postdoctoral positions or other jobs of interest. I enjoy mentorship so much and I dedicate lot of time, attention, empathy and care. 

I have mentored women and students that are underrepresented minorities in the biomedical field. It is important to encourage diversity, equity and inclusion of women, minorities and individuals from all races and ethnic groups. 

Manuscript reviewer

  • Molecular Psychiatry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA
  • Translational Psychiatry, Nature
  • Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Neuroimage
  • Journal of child Psychology and Psychiatry
  • European journal of Neuroscience
  • PLoS ONE
  • Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry, Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
  • Psychiatry Research 
  • Molecular Autism
  • Life Sciences

Society Membership

  • 2010-Present: Society for Neuroscience
  • 2012-Present: International Society for Autism Research (INSAR)
  • 2013-Present: Society for Social Neuroscience
  • 2016-Present: Society of Biological Psychiatry
  • 2018-Present: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) – travel awardee – not a full member 

Commentary on my research papers

  • Commentary on RDoC-based categorization of amygdala functions and its implications in autism: “Amygdala and oxytocin functioning as keys to understanding and treating autism: Commentary on an RDoC based approach”. Preckel and Kanske, Max Plank Institute. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 94 (2018). 

See publications

Last Updated: 6/27/22